Prince Charles drops by the brewery

Prince Charles visit WychwoodIt’s always a good day at the brewery when a prince drops by. Prince Charles recently visited Oxfordshire’s Wychwood Brewery, because that’s where his Duchy Originals Organic Ales are brewed.

Rupert Thompson, Wychwood Brewery’s managing director pictured with Prince Charles, introduced him to the Wychwood brewing team as well as hop growers and maltsters.

“We are all absolutely delighted and honored that The Prince of Wales took so much time from his busy schedule to visit the Wychwood Brewery. It is a huge tribute to everyone who works at Wychwood that The Prince, who was so obviously fascinated in the production process, was able to recognize all the hard work that goes into our beers,” Thompson said.


Utopias tops spirits in blind tasting

Samuel Adams Utopias outscored two highly rated spirits last week in a blind tasting in Chicago.

The 2007 batch of Utopias, checking in at a beer-record 27% abv, lined up against Frapin VIP XO Grand Champagne and Fonseca 1994 Vintage Port from Portugal in an event at David Burke’s Primehouse Restaurant.

Utopias received a total of 287 points, while Fonseca 1994 Vintage Port scored 249 points. Receiving 227 total points was Frapin VIP XO Grand Champagne. Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of Patterson’s The Tasting Panel Magazine, and Wine and Spirits editor, Bon Appétit (1981–2004) led the tasting.

“My goal with Samuel Adams Utopias was to challenge the very definition of beer,” said Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., producer of Samuel Adams beers. “I’ve always strived to see how complex and unique a beer could be and to expand people’s perception of beer. The 2007 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias definitely takes craft beer to a new level.”

The 2007 Utopias is a blend of liquids, some of which have been aged in a variety of woods at the Boston Brewery for up to 13 years. A portion of the beer was aged in hand-selected, single-use bourbon casks from the Buffalo Trace Distillery.


InBev feels pressure of rising cost of hops, malt

Although brewing giant InBev’s profits increased in the third quarter, its stock took a hit because those were short of expectations – and the company warned that the increasing cost of ingredients will cut into profits next year.

The company reported rising sales in Latin America and Russia while sales in western Europe slumped. Sales were down 11% in Germany, in part because numbers were compared to 2006, when the country hosted the World Cup in Germany. Sales in Belgium decline 9.6%.

Volumes were up 10.7% in central and eastern Europe, with Russia growing by 14% and Ukraine by 14.9%. Latin America sales increased 7.3%.

Chief Executive Carlos Brito blamed the weaker-than-expected performance primarily on poor sales in the U.K. and China and the rising cost of raw materials that include malt and aluminum.

Although he expressed optimism about the fourth quarter, InBev company warned that increasing commodity prices, especially for barley and malt, will affect all its business units in 2008.

Business details from CNNMoney.


Boston Beer earnings disappoint; stock slumps

Boston Beer Co.’s share price slumped more than 25% Tuesday following the brewer’s announcement of disappointing third-quarter earnings that included a $3.9 million charge related to a federal tax audit that reduced earnings by 18 cents per share.

Stock of the brewer of Samuel Adams beer closed at $38.55, down $13.15 for the day, after trading as high as $53.42 before its 3 p.m. earnings release. It was down another 4% in early trading Wednesday.

The results included a $3.9 million provision for the possibility the company may owe additional excise taxes. An ongoing audit by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau could push the bill higher.

Third-quarter revenue rose 15.9 percent to $97.2 million, from $83.9 million, as the company sold 476,000 barrels compared with 432,000 barrels a year ago. Profit was hurt by an $8.6 million increase in the costs of goods sold, higher package material and ingredient costs and expenses from the temporary shutdown of its Cincinnati brewery for maintenance.

The company said it has completed due diligence related to its previously announced agreement to buy a brewery outside Allentown, Pa., and expects to begin brewing beer there next summer. It said it also expects to make further unspecified investments in its Sam Adams brewery in Cincinnati over the next three years to ensure a more reliable, efficient operation.


Beer wars? A-B defends its Clydesdales, Dalmation

The Associated Press asks if the beer wars are back.

It appears that Anheuser-Busch might have been inclined not to respond to the latest advertisements from Miller Brewing about Miller Lite having more taste than Bud Light, but when Miller insulted A-B’s dog that was too much.

Milwaukee-based Miller’s new ad for Miller Lite, unveiled nationwide during football games and NASCAR events, features a Dalmatian on a wagon led by Clydesdales — the iconic horses synonymous with Anheuser-Busch, maker of top-selling Bud Light. In the distance, a Miller Lite truck appears, proclaiming “Miller Lite. Half the carbs of Bud Light” on the back. At a stop, the dog jumps into the Miller truck and rides away.

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch responded with a full-page ad in USA Today on Tuesday, complete with a picture of a Dalmatian, telling Miller to “keep up the bad work.”

“Apparently, Miller Beer believes they have to say negative things about our brands to sell their beer,” the ad said. “At Budweiser, we’re positive there’s a better way of doing things.”

The ad said Anheuser-Busch will make a donation to animal rescue groups across the U.S. in response to Miller’s ad.

New advertisements from Miller come at a time that the company is preparing to merge its U.S. operations with Molson Coors. It has been suggested that A-B, the nation’s largest brewing company, might have a competitive advantage if the second and third largest focus more on merging than competing with A-B.

Miller President and CEO Tom Long said in a note to distributors Tuesday that the company will air the ad this weekend during football games on several networks. It also will be posted on YouTube.

“The ‘able challenger’ is alive and well, and if A-B thought the Miller system would lose its competitive edge in the months to come, they don’t know us — or you — very well,” Long wrote.


Battle of the Beer Towns for new HQ

If all goes as planned, Miller and Coors will merge their U.S. operations in 2008, but the companies have not yet decided whether the headquarters of the MillerCoors joint venture will be in Milwaukee or in the Denver area.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compares the advantages of each town. Their focus is on things like labor costs, health care costs and taxes.

The report includes quality of life, but there’s no rating for “beeriness.”


New Miller beer ‘As light as it gets’

Miller Brewing might be pleased enough with the early success of a 64-calorie called MGDL-4 (or Miller Genuine Draft Light) it might extend the test throughout the Midwest and maybe even beyond.

Brandweek reports that MGDL-64, which debuted in August in Madison, Wis., has fared particularly well with women who sampled the low-calorie beer against Coors Light and Michelob Ultra from Anheuser-Busch.

Its tagline “As light as it gets” has appeared on retail displays as well as on out-of-home signage.

Miller rep Julian Green said, “We have made no definitive decisions about MGDL-64 beyond Madison and while we’re encouraged by the early results in Madison we’re waiting for a more detailed assessment which will influence our decision.”


Grab a beer, not water, after a workout

When you are really thirsty, like after a good workout, what refreshes you better, water or beer?

If you think that is a rhetorical question, news that Spanish researchers say beer can help someone who is dehydrated retain liquid better than water shouldn’t be a surprise.

Prof Manuel Garzon, of Granada University, also claimed the bubbles in beer help to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help to replace lost calories.

Prof Garzon asked a group of students to do strenuous exercise in temperatures of around 40C (104F). Half were given a pint of beer, while the others received the same volume of water.

Prof Garzon, who announced the results at a press conference in Granada beneath a banner declaring “Beer, Sport, Health”, said the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better.”

Juan Antonio Corbalan, a cardiologist, said beer had the perfect profile for re-hydration after sport. He said he had long recommended barley drinks to professional sportsmen after exercise.


Pumpkin beers: Funny, silly, and better than pie

Hops shortages. Malt shortages. What’s next?

Maybe pumpkin shortages.

Lew Bryson, writing for, and Lauren Clark in the Kansas City Star have everything you wanted to know about pumpkin beers but were afraid to ask.

Brewers literally can’t make enough.

James Ottolini of Schlafly Beer gives Clark his theory why.

“They’re fun. Halloween is one of those holidays that are fun. Adults might have stopped going door-to-door for candy, but we never stopped dressing up. As we grow old, we lose some of the playfulness and magical thinking we had as kids. Halloween gives you a permission slip to be funny and silly.”